Photos of the construction site

A film by Benoît Labourdette (12’43s, 2017). Text and photographs by Myriam Drosne.
31 January 2017. Published by Benoît Labourdette.
Reading time: 3 min  

Binocular walk in 360° inside the memory of a project of photographs of a construction site.

The false ubiquity of virtual reality

VR techniques
Shooting in virtual reality is traditionally done with several cameras, often five, placed together in a “rig”, which produces a number of images in parallel. It is then necessary to assemble them in a single image, which resembles a planisphere, it is the very complex operation, called “stitching”.
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This “planisphere” image, repositioned on the surface of the virtual sphere of the viewing helmet, is the one inside which we walk our gaze. We can never see everything, as in reality.

Framing and Staging
There is no more framing, but a position of the camera in the space. And in the very term of “virtual reality”, one feels an explicit project of simulacrum of the real. It was the same fantasy at the time of the invention of the Cinematograph in 1895: the spectators had the impression that the train advancing towards them on the screen was really on top of them. Then, it was realized that it was only a simulacrum, and that the interest of the cinema was elsewhere, in the relation between a subjective representation (the framing and the choice of the subject) and the particular ontology of this Technology (because the machine records a trace of the real, of what actually took place).

Social appropriation
Since mid-2016, there are small 360 ° cameras, equipped with a dual objective, each half capturing 180 ° of the field of vision. The stitching is automatic, via a small software or inside the phone which can serve as remote control to the camera. These cameras are accessible to the general public, so, perhaps, this new format, advocated by the most important contemporary industrialists, will become a common viewing area for humans in the coming years. It therefore deserves, since it seems that it will spread before our eyes, to be questioned, put at a distance, diverted ... so that we continue to build our freedom, sharpen our critical spirit ...

Device Override
After the shooting of this site visit previously photographed (by Myriam Drosne, of which I read in voice-over in the film the accompanying text of the exhibition) and the viewing of the images, the originals coming out of the camera and The images “planispheres” intended to be viewed in the helmet, then the sharing of reflection with several partners (mentioned in the credits at the end of the film: Astrid Baisse, Leïla Barreau, Emmanuel Vergès and Hélène Ricome), something appeared: More interesting to view “flat” binocular images than to propose a virtual reality experience to the viewer. Why ? Because, flat, the viewer sees all: the simulacrum is therefore defused. The critical position of the gaze is thus proposed by the form of the film.

The film

This walk takes place in front of a building site on the palisades of which are exhibited photographs of this same site, made by Myriam Drosne. The photos, memory of a moment in the past in transformation, are filmed in the present of the visit with the photographer, who takes the opportunity to make new pictures. We hear in voice-over the text, itself displayed in front of the building site (this is the first image of the film), which I read inwardly, like the visitor-witness I am. This voice is superimposed on the discussions we have at the time of filming. And the photographs I photographed on the palisades a few months earlier at the inauguration of this particular exhibition are superimposed on the images of the present, to be reborn by themselves in the animated image.

Thus, successive layers of images, looks, sounds and time form the body of the film, just as the site, as narrated by Myriam Drosne, lives in successive layers of deconstruction, extractions, depollutions. .. to found the future reconstruction.

During the shooting of the film, I realized a collection of fixed shots around the site, for a project of montage, particular spatial investigation around a place, via multiple places, as so many distinct positions of the spectator in which He could have turned his gaze. A quest, as in any filming documentary, complicated, questioning.

Then, just after this shooting was finished, Myriam Drosne grabbed her camera, to make new pictures. And there, the camera “VR” came out as naturally of my bag, turned on again, and the sequence shot of this film was turned obviously. All the previous shooting no longer needs to be, it was only a premise of what happened in the “real” and produced this truthful shoot, reflection and faithful element of these natural confrontations of images in The superimposed times.

A worksite is that: multiple layers of work superimposed, visible, moving, interwoven in space and time, building, as and when, the world. This film is therefore a documentary on what a construction site is.

I thank Laurent Antonczak for referring me to the LG 360 CAM R105 camera used for this film.


The films called “VR” (Virtual Reality) are films, linear or interactive, shot with 360° cameras, which can be viewed either on screen by moving inside the image with the mouse or the finger, either with a helmet placed in front of the eyes while turning the head. The films you find here use or divert this production and broadcasting technology. Because a technology is not neutral and must be questioned. This is why I also gather here captures and restitutions of colloquiums, conferences, round tables, workshops... on the subject of Virtual Reality, to which I (...)